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SRA praised after solicitor jailed

Financial fraud experts based in Leamington have been praised after helping jail a crooked solicitor who was laundering money for his drug-dealing friend.

A team of investigators from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), based in Tachbrook, Leamington, worked closely with detectives in South Wales to convict Swansea lawyer Benjamin Jason Cornelius of fraud, money laundering and perverting the course of justice.

He was jailed for four years and eight months after the court heard how he had secured mortgage advances and laundered the proceeds of crime through the purchase of properties for his friend David Carl Richards.

Richards was convicted of drug trafficking in July 2010 and is now serving a 12-year sentence.

After sentence was passed Detective Superintendent Chris Dodd, who co-ordinated the investigation said: "It is completely correct that any legal or financial professional who gives assistance or support to drug dealers – goes to prison. Without dishonest solicitors, accountants and financial advisors, criminals would find it much harder to hide or try to legitimise their criminal property in order to retain it.

"We are grateful for the invaluable assistance of the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority, which has been involved in our investigation."

For the SRA, director of intelligence and investigations Steve Wilmott said: "The SRA is always willing to get involved with investigations like this. It shows that working together with police and other agencies is the best way to get results. We are delighted with our work here and appreciate that it has been recognised by officers of the South Wales force."  

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